The Twentieth Century Society

Campaigning for outstanding buildings

Paolozzi mural, Tottenham Court Road underground, London
Southwark Underground Station, London

40 Buildings Saved

40. London Underground network

Architect: Various
Owners: Transport for London


The London Underground has long been feted for its design: the patronage of Frank Pick; the posters and Edward Johnston typeface, and Charles Holden’s interwar stations. But its 280 stations haven’t always been as protected as they could be. Prompted by the under-listing of stations, and unauthorised works being undertaken even in those that were listed, the C20 Society issued a report End Of The Line? The Future of London’s Underground, which attracted much press attention and led to a change of personnel and attitude, especially following the King’s Cross Fire later that year.

Subsequently, C20 discovered that signage removed from stations, including from listed buildings without consent, was being put up for sale at auction, and after a refusal by LT to withdraw them, forced a legal ban on these items amid much publicity. In 1997, with just 59 of 280 stations listed, a further C20 report recommended ‘that a total of 42 currently un-listed stations are considered for listing by virtue of their special historic and architectural interest.’

Two recent examples of C20 interventions include the Sir Eduardo Paolozzi murals at Tottenham Court Road station and Southwark Underground Station.


The redevelopment of Tottenham Court Road as part of Crossrail was set to see the loss of two important Paolozzi murals commissioned by London Transport and completed in 1984: in particular tiled arches over the escalators and a large decorative panel at the Oxford Street entrance. C20 campaigned for their survival and in 2017 the Society also advised that Southwark Underground Station, by MacCormac Jamieson Pritchard (MJP) as part of the Jubilee Line Extension of the late 1990s, be listed when proposals emerged to build a 30-storey housing development over the site.


TfL gave the C20 Society assurances that the Oxford Street entrance mosaic panel by Sir Eduardo Paolozzi at Tottenham Court Road tube station would be saved, albeit relocated. We put the Southwark Underground Station in for listing in 2017 but this was turned down. We requested that this decision be reviewed, as the Minister refused listing based on the perceived lack of threat rather than the building lacking special interest.  We are still waiting for the result of this review, which is being carried out by DCMS.

C20 has also recently submitted a listing application for Westminster Station in conjunction with Portcullis House.

There is now a greater understanding of Underground heritage and 71 stations now have listing protection.

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